HC Deb 24 November 1980 vol 994 c191
5. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will report on his last meeting with the chairman of the British Steel Corporation, on the future of the corporation.

Sir Keith Joseph

When I last met Mr. MacGregor I impressed on him the need in drawing up the corporate plan for the British Steel Corporation both to reduce as far as possible the corporation's need for external finance in 1981–82 and subsequent years and also to achieve the maximum possible private sector participation in the United Kingdom steel industry. I expect to receive the BSC corporate plan in mid-December.

Mr. Hamilton

Before the right hon. Gentleman next meets the chairman of the BSC, will be ensure that he meets the steel unions, to discuss with them the new strategy for the industry? Will be also discuss with the chairman the possibility of cheap energy costs, so that we can compete with Europe?

Sir Keith Joseph

Whom Mr. MacGregor chooses to meet is a matter for him. As for energy. we are considering the analysis sent to us by the CBI, and we have already had an analysis from Mr. MacGregor.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

When my right hon. Friend saw the chairman of the BSC, did he ascertain—and can he tell the House—the precise cost per annum per man employed by the BSC of the employment subsidy from the taxpayer and from firms that could have a productive future if the cost of Government expenditure were reduced over and above what each employee of the BSC produces?

Sir Keith Joseph

No, I did not. It would be relatively difficult, because the numbers employed by the BSC have been falling rapidly. However, Mr. MacGregor is in no doubt of the Government's desire to see the cost of the BSC to the taxpayer reduced as rapidly and as much as possible.

Dr. Bray

Did the Secretary of State support Mr. MacGregor in his wish to win the order for the steel for the gas-gathering pipeline for Britain, instead of leaving it to Germany and Japan?

Sir Keith Joseph

I respect Mr. MacGregor's ability to make his own case, which he is doing over many possible respects of further work for the BSC.